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The Customers

The meat went where the money was.  Up to around 1600, drovers supplied beef for the tables of kings and their armies, to rich noblemen and abbeys.  But when the merchant middle class grew rich, in Queen Elizabeth’s 1’s reign, Welsh and Scottish meat fed the hungry mouths of the big cities. London was enormously wealthy compared to the rest of the country - nothing seems to change - and had 4,000 butchers' shops in the 1840's when most of the country had few or none at all. 

Another important customer was the navy, for the sailors’ weekly ration included four pounds of beef and two of pork.  The price of an animal at Smithfield went up from £8 to £14 in the Napoleonic Wars, then dropped again in 1815 after Waterloo.
The Customers image 1
Cattle near Smithfield, 1820